A new United Women’s Soccer team is coming to Flint, Michigan, using Kettering University’s historic Atwood Stadium as its home field.
Genesee F.C. will round out the Midwest Conference, which includes defending UWS National Champion Grand Rapids F.C. Women.
“I have lived in the county for 14 years and know there is so much soccer power in Genesee County. I thought it was very important to create a team not only in Genesee and in Flint, but to put Flint on the map for something unique like this,” said Genesee F.C. Director of Operations Stevie Shard. “For me, it's been a dream to bring soccer at this level to Genesee. It was important to get something going in downtown Flint and at Atwood. This area is on the rise.”
The first home game is 7 p.m. Friday, May 18 at Atwood Stadium.
“We are thrilled to host Genesee F.C. home games right on our campus,” said Dr. Robert K. McMahan, Kettering University President. “When we renovated Atwood Stadium, our vision was to create a world-class venue capable of hosting athletics events at all levels. We are proud to see that vision has become a reality, and excited that professional soccer will become a fixture at Atwood Stadium.”
Atwood Stadium is an 11,000-seat venue which opened in 1929 and has hosted many memorable events, including rallies for political figures like John F. Kennedy and concerts for legendary bands like The Who. It has served as the backdrop for Flint’s long, proud athletic tradition as an Olympic gold medalist, a Heisman Trophy winner and dozens of other athletes who went on to successful collegiate and professional careers got their start at Atwood.
Since taking ownership of the stadium in 2013, Kettering has made repairs and improvements. New turf – the same quality playing surface used at Ford Field and Michigan Stadium – was installed in 2015, and the field was designed for football, soccer and lacrosse. Since reopening Atwood Stadium in 2015, the historic venue has hosted more than 40,000 visitors for collegiate, intramural, high school and youth sporting and community events.
Using Atwood Stadium as the team’s home field is exciting for Shard, who also is the head coach for men’s soccer at Northwood University. He played soccer professionally in England until 2004.
“We love it. We’re going to be playing in one of the biggest stadiums in the league. Many of the teams use high schools or indoor facilities with 1,000 or 2,000 seats. We are using an 11,000-seat facility,” Shard said. “What’s better than using such a historic stadium? We want to fill Atwood like it was back in the day. This is not just a business venture for us. The purpose is to get female soccer players back in Genesee County to play and bring something positive.”
The core players of the team is from Genesee County area, with the rest of the 30 players coming from around the country and abroad. The full schedule for home games at Atwood Stadium is:
7 p.m. Friday, May 18
7 p.m. Sunday, May 20
7 p.m. Friday, June 1
4 p.m. Sunday, June 3
5 p.m. Friday, June 29
“It’s the first time a women’s soccer league has ever happened in Flint,” Shard said. “Come check it out. It’s going to be a fun time. It’s going to be a good thing for the area.”